January 06, 2014

Our Giving Attitude

Devotion for the Week...

Quilter, as a group, are quite generous. When a tragedy occurs, quilters step up to blanket the victims in love. Lately, this has become a rather regular occurrence. Just since I have started blogging there have been quilts collected for West, Texas and for Moore, Oklahoma. Flags were donated to show love and support to the city of Boston and more quilts went to the people of Alberta. Sarah, of Confessions of a Fabric Addict, regularly shares the quilts made and donated by her church's quilt ministry. There are many other avenues for donating quilts, like Project Linus or Siblings Together. The do.Good Stitches bee works like any other online bee, but their finished quilts are donated.

I found this verse from 2 Corinthians to be interesting when I read it the other day. "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have" (2 Corinthians 8:12). The phrase 'for if the willingness is there' practically jumped out at me. God doesn't look only at what we do, but also at our thoughts and feelings about what we do. We can give and give and give all day long, but if we're grumbling in our hearts and heads, our giving is not acceptable to God. He wants us to give willingly. In the next chapter of the same letter, Paul wrote, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). So, God wants us to give, but we shouldn't be giving because we feel we have to or because everyone else is giving to a particular cause. God wants us to be giving because we want to give. Of course, we also can't just feel willing to give without actually giving anything. Both the willingness and the gift have to be there.

And if we are willing to give? Then the acceptability of what we give is measured according to what we have available to us. A person living on a small income who can only give a little shouldn't feel guilty for not being able to give as much as a person with a six-figure salary. Likewise, a quilter who sews in her spare moments and donates a couple of quilts a year shouldn't feel inadequate compared to a retired quilter who sews pretty much all day and has a stash to rival her local fabric store.

Jesus Himself shared this principle when He sat watching people putting money into the temple treasury. "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on'" (Mark 12:4-44). Though the widow's offering was tiny in terms of what it could buy, it was huge in terms of her faith and her willingness to give whatever she could.

Where are we with our giving? Whether we donate quilts or time or money, what is our attitude as we give? Are we cheerful givers, excited to be able to share some measure of what we have? Or are we giving only because it is expected of us, all the while thinking of what we could be buying with that money if we kept it for ourselves?

What about the proportion of what we give compared to what we have? Our tendency, I think, is to compare ourselves with others who have more than we do, making us feel that we don't have much we can share. If we were to take an unbiased look at our own resources, would we find we are better able to give than we thought? Many would probably have looked at the widow and thought she was crazy for giving as much as she did, and yet Jesus commended her actions. Would He commend us for our giving?

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